I looked out at the sky. It was going to storm, quite badly. The twilight clouds were a strange dark blue. The very tops of the clouds were gray. It was hard to believe this was nature, not some painter's masterful stokes on canvas. I shivered, feeling the air grew cooler as the clouds rolled in slowly from all directions. Already the wind was picking up, rustling the green leaves on the nearby bushes and trees.

"Dahling...." I looked up when the soft buttery voice addressed me. He could never seem to pronounce the R in the term of endearment. Louis slide down in the rocker next to mine. His long dark hair was tied back in a loose ponytail. In the darken sky it looked black, not the dark earth-brown it actually was. His hat was tilted forward, covering his brown eyes. I leaned back in the chair, and stared at the sky.

"It's going to storm bad." I said quietly. He chuckled a bit, leaning back. He sat two little shot glasses of amber colored liquid on the tiny round table between the chairs, along with a larger glass of tea. He kicked up his boots on the porch railing and rested his hands against the green-blue material on his stomach.

"I know. Everything is bunked down for the night, dahling." he spoke calmly. I looked over at him. I was nervous. The storm was not the only reason, however.

Louis reached in his shirt pocket, and pulled out a a vial of brown-maroon liquid. I eyed it warily. He smiled. It was a kind smile, one of reassurance and comfort. But in the smile I saw a hint of sadness. We both knew why.

"Big step you taking tonight. Once you do this, you can't go back. You will never be able to go back. You can visit back, but you will never actually be back. You'll be an outcast like me. You will never fit in with them again."

"I know, Louis. I never really felt like I fit in before, though. I won't be missing much." My stomach jumped. His smile did not falter. He was giving me the chance to turn away. "I'll be like you once I go through with it." I said, to let him know I did think about my choice.

"I'm not going to talk you out of it, or beg you into it." he stated, staring at the vial, turning it in his fingers. "I want you to make your choice, the one you want to make. But know that no matter what your choice is, I will not stop loving you because of it." I smiled a little.

"Will you promise to be gentle, Louis? I don't want this to be painful." I looked at him. He was looking at me. His large fingers tilted the brim of his off-white hat letting his strange and kind brown eyes look at me.


"Will you leave me eventually, chasing off after the next pretty thing you see?"

"Never. Always yours. I will know what you did to be with me, I will know you love me, even for what I am." I smiled a little. I knew he wouldn't run off, leaving me in the dust. "The question is, can you handle my devotion? My love? Our life? I can be very bear-like sometimes."

"Yes, I can. If I could not I would not do this. I want to be forever yours." I added. He smiled briefly at me, and looked to the darkening sky. The wind blew harder.

"Nature is protesting." I said, feeling an eery electricity to the air.

"No, She's giving you a clean slate." he said. "She's gone wild tonight, not out of protest, but celebration. She loves you as much as I do." He handed me the vial and a shot glass. "The contents of the vial will open your mind to Nature. You'll see things in a different light. After you swallow the stuff in the vial, shoot the whiskey. Strong, old. The potion will be rough. It'll chase it down." He picked up his little glass. I popped the cap off the vial. A strange scent filled the air, of grass and bark, of warmth and earth. It was not a bad smell.

"Last chance to turn back now. Save yourself if you want." he said, watching me with his glass raised. I noticed his hand trembled, causing the whisky to lap dangerously at the rim. He was just as nervous as I was. I smiled at him, and raised the vial to my lips. The scent became stronger. Strangely it did not over power me.

"Forever yours." I smiled at him before tilting the liquid in my mouth. He did the same with his whiskey. In the distance I heard a rumble of thunder.

The contents of the vial reminded me of a summer's night in the deep, untouched woods. I could taste the trees, the grass, the earth, and the sky. He was right, however. After the initial taste it began to burn my mouth. I swallowed quickly and raised the whisky to my lips. The whiskey took away some of the burn, but not a lot. I feel the liquid burn down my throat to my belly. It was as if someone set a bonfire inside of me me. Startled, I felt my eyes water and I began to cough. The shot glass and vial fell from my hands. I felt a heavy thump in my lap where the shot glass landed, and the loud shattering of glass to the right of me.

"Here! Quickly!" Louis thrust the glass of ice cold tea in my hands. Shaking, I poured the cool and sweetened liquid in my mouth. It felt so good, extinguishing the flames the potion created. I did not stop swallowing until the tea was gone. My stomach rumbled, and I thought I was going to be sick. I leaned forward, hoping that would not happened. I wanted to be his, I did not want my body to reject this.

Instead of vomiting like I feared I let out a loud belch. He chuckled and patted me on the back.

"Its the tea." I heard a sense of relief in his voice. "You must have swallowed it too fast. But I'm sure you feel better now, right?"

"Yes." It was true. I did feel much better after that pocket of air was gone. I sat the glass down on the table, and retrieved the shot glass from my lap. The vial laid shatter on the porch to the right of me. I moved to get up to get a broom, but he stopped me.

"There will be the morning for that. Its out of the way, so don't worry about stepping on it. Tonight, don't worry about anything. Just stay out here and we'll watch the storm until its time."

"until its time..." I repeated, licking my lips. He smiled, and leaned back in the rocking chair. I did the same. He reached over and took my hand, squeezing it. Another low and low rumble of thunder rolled in the sky.

"She's getting ready to break loose." Louis whispered. Sure enough, as soon as he spoke this, The rain started. It wasn't just a few drops here or there, like normal. It was an onslaught of large, fat heavy drops.Lightening flashed, followed by the deafening thunder. The fat drops pounded against the wood roof, creating a loud assaulting noise. Neither of us spoke.

As I sat there, watching the rain and sky, I began to few an odd sensation. It was very peaceful. I closed my eyes, feeling relaxed. The loudness of the storm went away. Things just seemed to quiet down. The storm must be moving on. I leaned down in my chair a little more, enjoying the feeling. For the first time in my life, I felt at home, wanted.

"Dah-ling." Louis whispered. "open your eyes." Slowly, I opened them, expecting the rain to be gone.

No, it was still the same onslaught. Yet, the drops were not so loud or scary. Instead, they were soothing and beckoning. I looked out into the yard, standing up to lean on the railing. I could see every drop that fell as the lightening flashed in the sky, ever glimmer of water. I could hear a soft thump as the rain hit the ground.

"She wants you. Hear Her calling for you?" he whispered to me. He was right. I wanted to go out to the rain, in the storm. I could were the whisper of the earth as clearly as I heard him speaking to me. I did not hear words, just the feelings of love, of rejoice. I looked back at him. He was leaning forward. "She wants to embrace you, cleanse you, love you." he smiled. "Don't be worried."

So I stepped down the three stairs of the porch into the rain. The water was not cold like it normally was. It was very warm, soaking me with a wonderful feeling of cleanliness. I cupped my hands together, allowing rain water to fill up my palms. Lightening flashed, offering me a glimpse of beautiful feminine face in the water. I barely noticed the thunder. I was intrigued by this woman in my palms. Who was she? I brought my water filled palms to me. As if reading my mind, another bolt of lightening flashed.

She was me. The woman in my palms was me, cleansed and calm. The glimpse was only brief, but I knew I was there. I started to laugh, happy. I was accepted by Nature, I was home. Cheerfully, I splashed the water against my face, rubbing it in my cheeks. Such a soothing sensation, the one of love and acceptance!

I lost time of how long was was out in the never-ending rain, being cleaned and loved. Only when I felt a pair of strong hands on my shoulders did I become of aware of how wonderfully soaked I was. I was warm, I was happy.

"It is time." a soft male voice whispered in my ear. I let Louis gently pull me into the modest cabin. I blinked. The inside of the cabin was dimly lit by the soft glow of little candles. I was dripping wet. He handed me a soft towel. I blushed as his fingertips touched mine. I could feel every ridge in his skin, every rough patch from where he worked in the earth. I quickly dried some of my hair, wanting to keep some of the soothing rain water on me but wanting to please him as well. He smiled gently.

"Take off your clothes, they are wet, and you won't be needin' them." I shivered as his soft voice seemed to caress my wet skin, offering an equal hint of love and protection, of excitement and lust. He had to help me. I was shivering. Not from cold, not from fear, but from excitement. When his fingers touched my skin I couldn't help but to moan softly. His nostrils flared, inhaling my scent. He knew what I wanted.

"Almost." he whispered in my ear as he dried me off more thoroughly. "Almost, my love." He pressed his soft lips against my ear in a kiss, sending a spark down to my toes. He stood back, and removed his wet clothes.I blushed, and looked away slightly. I was still a bit shy. He chuckled, finding my modesty cute. He gently took my hand, and lead me to the bedroom. The deep brown and maroon comforter and covers on the bed were pulled back, revealing the white sheets. The scent of wood smoke filled my nostrils, intoxicating me. I climbed on the bed and knelt in the center, waiting for him to join me.

In the dim light I watch him pick up a stone bowl from the near the door, the source of the wood smell. Smoke raised in tendrils from the center. This was not thick wood smoke, but much like incense smoke. It curled and formed little playful shapes.

Louis climbed on the bed and knelt in from of me, placing the bowl between us. Smiling, he reached out and touched my face. I reached up and wrapped my fingers around his wrists. He was a strong man, as strong as a bear. Yet one couldn't tell from the way he cupped my face so gently.

"You've accepted me for what I was, you loved me when nobody else could," he whispered, staring at me with his handsome brown eyes. "or wanted to." I smiled back at him. "For this I offered to share my world with you, a world very few people know or live in. Do you accept this?"

"Yes." I whispered, a dreamy. The smoke was intoxicating. He stared at me a bit more, as if deciding if he wanted to go through with this himself.

"I love you, Louis." I said, as if to reassure him. "This is my choice to want this, to be like you and to understand you." He smiled, and let go of my face.

"I promise I will try not to hurt you." he whispered, showing the reason for his hesitation. I nodded.

"I'll forgive you." I said. He nodded. His hands waved near the base of the bowl, encourage the smoke up.

"My animal is the mighty bear, strong, fierce, protective." he whispered. As he spoke, I watched in wonder as the smoke took on the shape of a bear, round and large. Was he truly making the shapes, or was it the potion I took? "The animal chose me when I was young, and is me today.We are one, the bear and me." I watched as he leaned forward a bit. He inhaled the shape through his nostrils with half closed eyes. "He is my animal spirit, my fated shape." His eyes opened. I took a breath. I could see the animal in his eyes, fierceness, the thing he was when he chose to be. I felt my stomach flutter nervously as he made the motions again.

"Tell me what you see." he whispered. "Watch."

The smoke rose, pausing as it did before. This time, the smoke formed together into a lean creature with long legs. The creature looked around, as if looking for something or someone.

"Tell me." he whispered.

"I see a deer." I answered, a bit surprised. He chuckled. He could see the shape as well, the long-legged smoke animal prancing in a small circle between us.

"A doe. A graceful, playful and cunning creature. She is a beauty in nature. She has chosen you." He leaned forward. With a gentle puff, he blew the smoke in my face. I followed his example, and inhaled. The smoke did not burn my nose as expected.

As I inhaled I felt a call to spring over meadows, to run and to twist in a lithe form over colorful wildflowers. I wanted to play carefree as a deer, as doe. I wanted to splash in a clean brook, I wanted to bounce and run.

"Our fates are together." I opened my eyes, letting the feeling melt away. He was smiling gently. "A doe is fragile and delicate. She needs a bear to protect her." He moved the bowl to the floor, away from the covers and anything else, giving it an open space. When he sat back up he looked at me. I shivered. He leaned in.

His lips found mine in a gentle kiss. I kissed back.

"Please, Louis. I'm ready." I whispered softly. He kissed me again, just a gentle, sweet kiss. I sensed a hesitation. "What's wrong?"

"I don't want to hurt you." he whispered, shivering a bit. "I am suppose to protect you."

"You won't, you'll set my doe spirit free." I whispered back. "She's inside of me now, she can't live trapped. Set her free, Louis. Do what you have to do." I leaned back, allowing him to over over me.

"You'll be like me. You'll be different." he whispered.

"I'll be like you. I'll have a free side, one who isn't trapped false laws. I'll be in touch with Nature, with you. Please Louis." I whispered, wrapping my arms around him. He breathed a bit harder as he pressed his body down against mine. I shivered, feeling his strength. He truly was a bear.

"I love you." he whispered, his lips near my shoulder. I moaned softly as I felt his hand run over the tops of my thighs. I parted my knees for him. His fingers touched me, as I heard a rumble of thunder from outside. I clutched onto his back and moaned, feeling electric and the desire for his love and my spirit freedom.

"please." I begged, wiggling my hips as he played with me, his fingers touching and rubbing my most intimate of spots. "I'm ready."

With that he slowly slid in me. I clutched onto him tighter. He was hard and big as I remembered. I moaned softly as he started to kiss my neck.

"I'm sorry." he whispered as he slowly moved in and out of my body, wanting me to relax and excite me even more.

"I'll forgive you." I dug my nails in his back. He continued to thrust, letting me enjoy the felling of him inside of me. I shivered, and moaned. It was a good feeling, a clean start, a welcomed pain to come. Slowly, as I felt the pleasure and pressure building up, I closed my eyes and thought of the doe. The doe was in a meadow, bouncing playfully around a large brown bear, who tried to play with her but could not catch her. When my body tightened and I could not hold out much longer that was his signal.

His bite was vicious. It had to be. He had to break my skin, to pass the gift. I arched my back and opened my eyes as the pain shot through me like a ripple against a pond. I screamed, digging my nails in his back as he dug his teeth in my left shoulder, down to the very bone. I felt the liquid hot warmth of blood, my blood, seeping out. I felt a an alien stinging sensation. Louis's body heaved. I realized he was sobbing, his tears in my wound was the sting sensation. Had I hurt him by digging my nails in his back? I wished to asking him but could not, in fear I might cry out in sheer pain myself.

"I'm sorry. I hurt you." he sobbed. "I wish there was another way, I wish there was potion instead of a bite like that." Feeling my pain subside and my trembling calming down, I gave him a light hug.

"Thank you." I whispered, kissing his ear. "Louis, stop sobbing." I tried to hide the quiver in my own voice, the pain from him. "We're free, I'm your kind now. I'll shape-shift with you as a doe, you can protect me. Please Louis, be strong, be fierce." I kissed his neck and pulled his face up to look at mine. His large brown eyes, human, not animal were watery with tears. "Be the bear." I kissed his mouth, tasting my own blood, which poured out over the sheets. Louis too a handful of the cotton, and pressed it against my shoulder to stop the bleeding.

"Can I lay next to you?" he whispered.

"yes." he pulled out of me and moved to the side. I pressed up against his chest As he held the bit of sheet over my wound. I could feel the bleeding stop.

"You'll feel strange your first time shifting, I'll be there to help you with that."

"I'd like that." I whispered, leaning into him, in harmony with Nature and her untamed ways, with the doe whom I would become, and of course, my protector and lover.

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